Listening to last night’s Obama-Keyes debates, it seems clearer than ever how rhetorically effective, persuasive, and moving a consistent stance against the Iraq War can be, and how consistent with a clear commitment to defend Americans from real threats. Shame Kerry never got a chance to get some pointers from Obama on this…

Well, Alan Keyes has been the Republican Senate candidate from Illinois (at least, if one can do that without being, you know, from Illinois) for less than three days now, and so far his attacks on LWB-idol Barack Obama have ranged from the unbelievably outrageous – comparing him to a slave owner because he believes that the American tradition of liberty procures to women as well as men – to the unbelievably petty – calling him a coward for not rescheduling the first three debates he had originally planned for the summer…back when there was going to be a Republican candidate to debate during the summer. That, and Keyes compared Obama to “this little guy who was pretending to be big.” Obama, meanwhile, remains biting but civil:

I have to admit that I’m surprised that out of the 12 million people in Illinois, they couldn’t find one that they thought would be an effective standard-bearer…I guarantee you that between me and Mr. Keyes, people are going to be sick of hearing the two of us talk by the time this campaign rolls around…[Keyes’ anti-abortion rhetoric] is out of the mainstream. By his yardstick, Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson would be unacceptable candidates.

With Obama leading Keyes 67% to 28, it would be tempting to say that there’s nowhere for Keyes to go but up. But I suspect that, when it comes to tired, misleading rhetoric and widespread unpopularity, Keyes hasn’t found the floor yet.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that former Republican Presidential candidate Alan Keyes will receive the Republican nod to face Barack Obama in Illinois’ Senate election. I’d say Barthwell, despite her harassment of gay employees, would have managed to pull more votes for the GOP given her actually being from Illinois and her not being on record as a right-wing fringe polemicist (not that I have a problem with fringes, or polemicists…), but this race was Obama’s either way. Seeing as Keyes has largely been out of the public eye the past four years, I figured I’d put together a few choice quotes (culled from Bruce Miller’s Take Them At Their Words) from the man who would be R-IL.

On Clinton’s impeachment:

And what was fascinating, I spent part of the time in my talks addressing the vote that had taken place on Friday, and making the point that in truth the Senate did not exonerate Bill Clinton, ’cause we all know he’s guilty. They perjured themselves. (February 16, 1999)

On Democrats:

…a party without a heart or principle or respect for law or anything else, which, because of the lack of a sense of principle, now I think poses a deep threat to our future as a free people…a party that has adopted the kind of “ends justifies the means” approach that characterized the communist parties in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union – and such a party is potentially an instrument of deep repression…it has surrendered to that total abdication of moral concern which then says that so long as you succeed at doing what we want done, we don’t care how you do it. And in a nation that’s supposed to be based on Constitutionalism and the rule of law, that is a party that is a danger, indeed… (February 16, 1999)

On September 11 and abortion:

If we pray down destruction on the head of Osama bin Laden for that violation of innocent life, we have to be aware that we pray down destruction as well on a nation that is willing to enshrine in principle a right to administer the selfsame blow to those innocent lives of our offspring that ought to be more sacred in our obligation to God than any others. (July 17, 2002)

At a rally supporting Judge Roy Moore’s refusal to take down the ten commandments from his court:

The greatest danger we have faced, the greatest danger we face today lies not in the guns of any enemy. It lies not in the strength of any foreign power. The greatest danger that we face today is those who wish to tell us, in the name of freedom, that we must turn our backs on God! (April 12, 2003)

Looks like the Republicans are actually preparing to field a candidate who believes that the Democrats are about as dangerous as Stalinists, abortion-supporters are worse than Osama bin Laden, and civil libertarians are the greatest threat to our national security. The Sun-Times quotes one member of the panel which is said to have made the offer looking forward to Keyes and Obama “doing Lincoln-Douglas debates.” I’m sure Obama is psyched to debate, given that he was challenging Ryan for more debates even as he way way ahead of him in the polls, and it would certainly be entertaining to watch. I’m not sure it’s a pairing that merits the description “Lincoln-Douglas.” I am confident saying Keyes will find no more success running for Senate in Illinois than he did back in Maryland.